Sparxell 04.04.24

Sparxell has announced the completion of a $3.2 million funding round to accelerate the development and commercialization of products to eliminate synthetic chemicals from colourants in the cosmetics, fashion, paint, and packaging markets.

The Circular Innovation Fund, a global venture capital fund - jointly managed by Demeter and Cycle Capital with L’Oréal as an anchor investor - participated in the seed funding, alongside others. These included Future Communities Capital, investor PDS Ventures, impact investor Katapult, biotech and consumer sectors investor Joyance Partners and climate investor SNØCAP VC

Apparently, Sparxell was founded in 2022 by Cambridge scientists, led by Dr Benjamin Droguet and Professor Silvia Vignolini. They discovered ways to replicate vibrant colours using plant-based cellulose, a renewable, biodegradable resource that can be extracted from waste streams. The company says its pigments are toxin-free and fully biodegradable. 

“Traditional chemical colourants are causing major environmental harm through every stage of their lifecycle, from manufacture to degradation. Over 10,000 fossil-based chemicals are used in current colouration processes,” said Sparxell founder & CEO, Dr Benjamin Droguet. 

He stated: “Our plant-based materials can be grown and sourced locally in a complete rethink of how colours are currently being manufactured while reducing transport emissions. The industrial applications for Sparxell’s products are broad, from cosmetics and textiles to paints and packaging.” 

Sparxell says the colourants market is worth an estimated $38 billion and is expected to grow to over $100 billion by 2030, according to data from Precedence Research

The funds will enable Sparxell to expand its manufacturing capacity to support pilot production, secure further product development partnerships with brands, undertake more product trials with key manufacturers and distributors, and expand headcount. The company expects to launch a Series A funding round in the coming months to upscale production capacity and accelerate commercialization. 

“The Circular Innovation Fund has invested in Sparxell because its nature-inspired colourants address a range of concerns including plastic waste, carbon emissions, human rights, and water savings. With colourants being such an important component of cosmetics, we are especially excited to see the application of Sparxell products in this sector,” said Stéphane Villecroze, co-founder and managing partner at Circular Innovation Fund.  

In related news, researchers at Swansea University in Wales developed a recyclable silver conductive ink, which they hope can enable the creation of circular electronics without compromising performance. The low-temperature curing ink was developed for screen printing conductive tracks, to provide a route to scale up the technology using commercially available processes. 

Earlier this year, Siegwerk, Greiner Packaging, and Krones collaborated on an initiative to deink and recycle polypropylene and polystyrene cups via hot caustic washing, and are now calling for design-for-recycling guidelines to be updated in line with their results. The process is anticipated to produce high-quality white recyclates without requiring packaging manufacturers to alter their ink formulation or print design. 

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